One cannot play Holy Orthodoxy by the book. Even less so by the Internet. The reason is simple: We teach that God has revealed himself as person. God cannot be known in general or in a non-personal way. Indeed, it is God who reveals to us what it means to be personal. Prior to the revelation of the Holy Trinity, humankind did not know of truly personal existence. It is the gift of God.

Because we know God personally, everything we know about Him is personal as well. All we know about each other is personal (at least what have true value). This is why Orthodox Canons work the way they do: Orthodox Canons state the Church’s discipline in the best possible way – that then requires bishops and priests to apply them pastorally. Thus, Orthodoxy cannot be “done by the book”, because people are not books. Each person is unique and must be treated in a unique manner.

There is so much information about the Orthodox faith to be found today. Some of it can be found in books or internet sites. Not all of it is accurate, while others is antiquated or outright contradictory.

God has so ordered His Church to remain personal. Never let anyone tell you that we are “people of the book”. Orthodoxy recognizes Holy Scripture and its authority of course, but that authority does not and cannot exist apart from the Church any more than it can exist apart from God.

The so-called Sola Scriptura idea has not worked (it has created more schisms than can be numbered). The same approach, applied to the Canons or books on Orthodoxy will only yield the same fruit.

Thus, the best advice we can give someone with regard to the Orthodox faith is: Come, experience God in worship and liturgy. It is the Church that St. Paul calls the pillar and ground of the truth. The Internet is a wonderful tool. It can even function to give us the Scriptures electronically. Blogs and Forums can be helpful, provide they do not propagate hateful speech. However, none of these are the Church. No screen or book will ever give you the Body and Blood of Christ. Neither can they anoint you. Come to Church. Say your prayers. Be in the presence of God.